The G20 enters the fray

German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses for a group picture at a meeting of the G20 health ministers in Berlin

While this guy is being lambasted for his approach to science & medicine, we can be thankful that the true leader of the free world, Angela Merkel – who holds a PhD in chemistry – is going about things quite differently.

For example, this past weekend under the leadership of Chancellor Merkel, Health ministers of the G20 leading economies met for the first time and agreed to work together on the growing problem of drug-resistant infections and to start implementing national action plans by the end of 2018. In a joint statement the Health ministers stressed the need to:

  • Combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) through appropriate monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and consumption in G20 countries
  • Raise awareness on AMR prevention and control across multiple stakeholders
  • Prioritise the need for infection prevention, control, sanitation and vaccination across health systems
  • Promote judicious use of antimicrobials through education and training of health professionals
  • Foster research and development for new antimicrobials, alternative therapies, vaccines and rapid-point-of care diagnostics

But why is the G20 – whose mandate is the promotion of international financial stability – making antibiotic resistance a priority? Here’s what economist & former chairman of Goldman Sachs, Jim O’Neill (who wrote a highly persuasive report on antibiotic resistance commissioned by then Prime Minister David Cameron) said last September:

As [drug-resistant infections] renders established antibiotics ineffective untreatable infections will make relatively routine procedures such as organ transplants or cancer chemotherapy increasingly risky. The human and economic toll of rising [drug-resistant infections] could easily spiral out of control: left unchecked, drug-resistant infections could claim ten million lives annually by 2050, with the cumulative cost in terms of global GDP reaching $100 trillion. [My emphasis.]

In other words, as the G20 said at the same time as the O’Neill statement, “AMR poses a serious threat to public health, [economic] growth and global economic stability.”


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